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The rent is too damn high: advocates call on Common Council to enact legislation to help protect renters

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Thomas O'Neil-White
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WBFO News
Housing Advocates deliver housing demands to the office of Council member Rasheed Wyatt

Housing advocates took to the hallways of City Hall Tuesday to demand Buffalo Common Council members act quickly to put forth legislation to a housing crises they say is becoming increasingly dire.

According to PUSH Buffalo rent is up 16% since 2020 and an October Tenant Power Summit identified the most urgent needs faced by renters.

Tenant Leader Ryan Stempien said there needs to be more protections on the books for renters so they are not displaced or suffer from health issues due to rising costs and absent landlords.

Ryan Stempien
Thomas O'Neil-White
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WBFO News
PUSH Buffalo Tenant Leader Ryan Stempien

“The rent is too damn high," he said, echoing a famous line from a gubernatorial debate. "Like New York City we need laws against price gouging so that we can protect tenants against gentrification and displacement, which are already having devastating effects. Good Cause laws would implement rent stabilization as they would restrict landlords from egregious hikes and rent, people that are paying 6-700 dollars a month, have the landlord realize, ‘hey, there's somebody else that's gonna pay $1,000 a month for this unit. So I'm going raise your rent by $300.’ Is that an eviction? Let's be honest, that's an eviction. That's an eviction right there and that's what good cause would do to protect us.”

Advocates would like to see the Common Council implement articles of the Tenants Bill of Rights which continues to gain steam across the state.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.